Wales coach Gatland slams Priestland booers

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has slammed supporters who booed fly-half Rhys Priestland when he came on to the field at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to face Australia.

Wales lost 28-33 to Australia extending their losing streak to 10 straight losses to Australia and when twenty-seven-year-old Priestland came on to replace Dan Biggar a group of fans booed the fly half.

Priestland’s entry into the game came early in the second half after Biggar was injured.

Former Wales captain Ryan Jones said on his Twitter account that the booing fans were a “disgrace” and Gatland also slammed the group after he named Scarlets number 10 to start against Fiji this weekend.

“I only heard today that he was booed,” Gatland told journalists.

“I suppose it’s part of sport now. Tottenham got booed at the weekend, didn’t they?

“The way with social media and stuff and criticism, you feel for Rhys a little bit because he’s been hammered on social media by certain sections. He is a confidence player. You hate to see (it).

“He’s a young man who at one stage contemplated giving the game away because it wasn’t worth taking that sort of personal criticism.”

Priestland converted a 64th-minute penalty try to put Wales 28-27 ahead against Australia, only for Bernard Foley to give the tourists victory with a late drop-goal and penalty.

“I thought he (Priestland) did pretty well when he went on at the weekend,” Gatland added. “I just hope he goes out, plays well and puts two fingers up to the section of the crowd that may have been booing him last week.

“It’s something I don’t think we need in the game. We don’t always agree, but that’s the beauty of sport.

“You disagree with someone, and that’s fine, but you would like to see there is a bit of respect out there for people who are trying to do their best. He doesn’t go out there to put that jersey on and fail.”

Biggar’s injury led to a recall for Gloucester playmaker James Hook, who was surprisingly left out of Gatland’s initial squad for the November Tests in spite of his 76-cap experience.

“We’ve been watching James Hook a lot, and I think his game has improved for Gloucester,” Gatland said.

“He gives us some versatility and he understands what we’re trying to do as a squad. For us, James was a logical decision and he was pleased to come in. It’s a great opportunity for him.

“We were concerned initially with how lateral he was. We wanted him to attack the line a bit more and be a lot squarer. He has been working on that aspect, and I think that’s made a difference to him and Gloucester.”

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